Are We Now Living in One World? The concept of the world becoming ‘as one’, is a concept which has been widely been contested by many writers on subjects such as modernisation, globalisation, and equality to name a few. It is quite clear from out everyday lives in how some aspects of our lives are clearly influenced by other cultures, such as the availability of Indian takeaways on every high street. Robertson (1992) suggests that the world began to become more integrated with the European voyages of discovery and colonisation in the 15th Century. 1 Turner (1994) has shown how there has been a global economy since the 17th Century.
Yet other theorists claim that it is a much more recent development. In this essay I intend to look at many of these theories and in particular look at theories of modernisation, and globalisation. Modernisation replaced the older traditional forms of societies based on agriculture. Parsons (1966) has referred to the evolution of societies as a “process of modernisation”. This presumes all societies to be eventually heading towards the modern stage. This can be applied to the theory of globalisation in that he is saying that all societies will become similar and ‘modern’.
Rostow (1971) used a similar model to explain human society, in his eyes it was both evolutionary and possessed an ‘inner logic’ which leads societies to ‘modernisation’. 4 In the opinion of Giddens (1990), globalisation originated from modernisation. It is a continuation of the trends from modernisation processes in 18th Century Europe. Modernisation is based on processes of disembedding. It ‘dis-embeds’ feudal individuals from fixed identities in space and time.
This is known as the ‘time-space distanciation’, which I shall examine in further detail shortly. It is used to explain the historic move from traditional to modern societies and the part played by globalisation in speeding up the modernisation process. 5 Giddens (1991) suggests that the modernisation process entails four major sets of ‘institutional complexes of modernity’. These are administrative power, military power, capitalism and industrialism. 6 Administrative power refers to the growth and development of the secular nation state based on rational and bureaucratic forms of administration of its population and law and order. Capitalism and industrialism represent new forms of production based and centred on factory and industrial production.
Militarism is based upon technology and professional armies in modern societies. 7 In France, the word for globalisation is mondialisation. In Spain and Latin America, it is globalizacion. The Germans say globaliserung. This shows how far the term has spread and how widely used it is. It is said by many writers such as Giddens (1999) and Beck (2001) that we are now living in a cosmopolitan society which is forming around us. It is emerging in an anarchic haphazard, fashion carried along by a mixture of economic, technological and cultural imperatives. 8 Robertson (1996) defines globalisation as a concept,
“Which refers to both the compression of the world and the intensification of consciousness of the world as a whole… “9 Giddens (1991) takes the view that globalisation is an equalising process as it gives previously disempowered groups and nations the potential to realise their goals. He has spoken of globalisation generating “reverse colonialism” which means that non- western countries influence developments in the west. Examples of this are the Latinising of Los Angeles, the emergence of a globally orientated high tech sector in India and the selling of Brazilian TV programmes to Portugal.
For Giddens (1994) globalisation is a social process which results in, “… Larger and larger numbers of people living in circumstances in which disembedded institutions, linking local practises with globalised social relations, organise major aspects of day to day life. “11 However, he sees it as a contradictory and uneven process. He claims that it ‘pulls away’ from local communities and uses the example of the weakening of the capacities and power from nation states in the hands of supra national political organisations. It is also said to ‘push down’ as it may present local communities with new possibilities and demands, such as the increase of nationalist movements, for example, in Scotland.
Globalisation is said to emanate from the 1960s as this is when aspects of the modernisation process received added impetus as a result of globalisation. In late modernity there is a world capitalist system which is dominated by Trans-National Corporations (TNCs) which operate independently of nation states. TNCs can be the dominant economic actor especially in ‘developing countries’. 13 In industrialism Giddens (1994) claims there has been a development of the International Division of Labour in which local industries are incorporated.
Previously separate and distinct industries are now involved in trading raw materials and components with each other. He also mentions how ‘industrialisation’ now includes the ‘service’ and ‘culture’ industries. These industries are now internationally based. 14 The administrative powers of the nation state grow due to the increasing ‘internationalisation’ of state relations through the sharing and pooling of knowledges and hardware states can increase their powers of surveillance and control over populations. 15 Military power has become globalised through the increasing alliances between states, which empowers members of each alliance.
This can be seen today in the alliance between the UK and the US in fighting the war against terrorism in Afghanistan. The concept of ethnocentricism can see seen as a criticism of globalisation as most of the developments benefit the richer Western countries rather than equalising wealth. Gilroy (1995) has illustrated this by saying that the West has used the ‘rest’ of the world, especially regarding the use of slavery by which to ‘modernise’.
Parsons saw the West as the sole source of modernisation, and globalisation is said to have come from modernisation. 18 Giddens (1999) speaks of how all giant multinational companies come from rich countries, most being based in the US. It can also be seen that global poverty remains at scandalous levels and millions of people around the world have little, if any, democratic rights. The share of the world’s population in global income has dropped from 2. 3% to 1. 4% from 1989 to 1999. The proportion taken by the richest fifth has risen from 70% to 85%. In Sub-Sahara Africa, 20 countries have lower incomes per head in real terms than they did twenty years ago. In many less developed countries, safety and environmental regulations are low or virtually non-existent.
Some TNC’s sell goods in these countries that are controlled or banned in developed countries, such as poor quality medical drugs, destructive pesticides and high tar and nicotine cigarettes. 19 Tanzania’s debt of i?? 4. 5 billion is 152% of its GNP. 85% of the Zambian population lives in absolute poverty. 20 The abandonment of the term ‘third world’ can be an indicator of the alleged convergence of the world.
The term originates from the belief that the group of countries it stood for would develop to modernity by a third route that differed from that of the ‘first world’ or the ‘second’. The ‘first world’ refers to the countries involved in the industrial revolution and the capitalist route to modernity; and the ‘second world’ refers to the Soviet Block who took the socialist route to modernity. Harris (1986) claimed that the abandonment of the term was due to the increasing global integration and therefore the notion of distinct worlds were out of date. 21 This theory is supported by the fact that some countries previously referred to as ‘third world’ are now economic rivals of the ‘first world’, such as Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore.